Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Great White North

I am a fan of Stuff White People Like.

It amuses me and often I find myself thinking, "doh, what a white thing I just did!"

Of course, I *am* white, so it's not like I'm trying to be a different ethnic group or anything.

I love this web-site because I can sit and laugh and say to myself (out-loud because I lack all social skills) "oh, that is so true! I have *got* to stop doing that!!" Not that I'm going to stop recycling or desiring North Face gear or throw away my pea coat, but at least I can laugh about it. I have a great love of laughing at myself, so maybe that's why I am so entertained.

Anyway, part of the premise of this web-site is to "teach" others how to interact with white people. And I'm thinking to myself, this could be an instruction manuel on how to interact with Danes. Because Denmark is THE country of white people. Almost every post relates to it.

#120: Taking a year off
This is THE Danish thing to do. Personally, I think it's a great idea... but then, I'm white. :-) While most Americans can't really afford to do this AND go traveling (taking a year off is more often than not a chance to work your butt off and make some cash for college), Danish kids don't need to save up for school. Since they're not only getting a free education, but also get some money from the state to do so, they can blow their savings on a nice exotic tour of somewhere. And for Danes, Europe is just south of them! I get so frustrated with Europeans (this is not limited to Danes) who are so surprised that I haven't visited Spain or spent summers in southern Italy. Um... it was kinda farther away from me than it was for you. And I sorta had to work to pay off my school.

This led to a discussion last night with my over-tired cranky husband. He laughed when I told him how I managed to get thought my education for very cheap and how I'm proud of how low my loans were. He was amused because he's been paying my bill for the last two years and to him, $6000 a year is NOT cheap for school. Telling him how much it normally cost didn't make much of a dent. Trying to explain that there is tuition, fees, and health care bundled together as well as food and housing costs that are far above what we pay in rent here really didn't compute. Finally getting really mad and pointing out that I was working to pay my food and housing costs because this is not covered by anyone sort of got through to him. Most American kids have to work to pay for food and housing costs. They then take out loans to cover the tuition et al. By going to inexpensive schools, I managed to keep the tuition down and fortunately my parents were able to put money towards it and I was able to keep my grades high enough to get some scholarships. I worked to cover the incidental needs, food, roof, etc. I did have to take loans, but only small ones to cover what was left. Graduate school is more like the Danish system, because they pay you and they waive your tuition. Until you run out of funding, but hopefully by then you just have to pay a minimum fee, as I do.

I'm still a bit frustrated about the discussion last night, as you can probably tell.

#97: Scarves
I don't know when the keffiyeh became part of the Danish wardrobe, but you can buy it in H&M with sparkly strings woven through it. It's like "wow, how hip, pretty, and political!" And you can't really ask the Dane wearing it if they actually support the Palestinian movement (almost all the keffiyehs on people around here are black and white = Palestinian) because the answer is "of course!" Not that they've been there or follow the news in the Middle East with regularity, but that's okay, you can support a political position without knowing anything about it - just ask Republicans. HA! Sorry, so sorry. I really couldn't resist. I have sane Republican friends (as well as several insane Republican family members), really. (Is that like certain politicians who say they have black friends or gay friends in order to try to suggest they aren't racist homo-phobic asshats?)

Anyway, as you can see in my picture, I am wearing a keffiyeh. So who am I to talk? Well, I wear it to keep the sun out of my eyes and the sweat off my brow. I don't wear it as a scarf. I don't wear it outside of Israel. Yes, I do wear it in Israel. Yes, I do know what political message I am sending when I wear it there. I usually keep it to the field. I'm not walking around downtown Jerusalem wearing it. Because, duh, it's really for men. Women do not wear keffiyehs. I'd look like a complete idiot tourist wearing it around town!

What I've learned from reading "Stuff White People Like" is that upper-middle class America is ridiculously Dane-like. Probably one of the reasons so much of Denmark seems normal to me. It also explains why I get so frustrated with Denmark some times. I feel like some of the worst behavior I thought I'd left behind followed me here. If we were to follow the lead of certain American who are calling for the end of immigration, making English the official language, and insisting on institutionalizing American-ness, we'll end up like Denmark! Too much white, too much homogeneity! Ack!!

There is good stuff about Denmark. Really. The idea that people ought to be treated equally and have equal access to education and health care is a noble one. It gets a little perverted when it becomes "all people are equal, which means same, and if they aren't, well, we'll just come up with a system for making sure they are." I want to go hit people about the head. "Equal does not mean SAME!" GAH!

(Meanwhile if one more Republican friend or relative tries to convince me that Obama is Satan and America is becoming a socialist ungodly nation, I'm going to scream.)

3 comments:

  1. Go on the dailyshow.com or whatever the Daily Show's website is, and watch the episode from 16 April.... Just the poking at Sean Hannity was enough for me!

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  2. I hear you!!!! And now I have to go check out the site myself!
    And tell hubby, if he wants to see some REAL DEBT for a masters and doctorate (yes, I kept going with the PhD without stopping so have not paid a dime of the masters yet!)....then he can call me! He will think yours is a BARGAIN! ;o)

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  3. Ditto for me on scandinavians who seem surpirsed that I have not been to Spain or south of france, I have not even been to Norway!

    Well thats because I had to sell a liver and my kidney for my education. Some parts of the US of A is as far as I got before I met a Danish man and denmark sucked my savings out of me.

    Perhaps you will understand my plight better when I say I live and work in India. The rupees I got my my liver just about bought me a polse in CPH.

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Keep it clean, don't be mean....